Lines. Traffic. Waiting rooms. Test results. We are a culture that has been conditioned to detest “waiting”.
I’m being very transparent here, but no matter how many times I’ve had to put it into practice, patience does not come easily for me. No one is immune to waiting – we all do it at some level, and whether you’re waiting for good news or bad, anticipation can eat you alive if you’re not careful. Over the past four years, it would seem that God has chosen to test me repeatedly on the fine art of waiting on His timing. I’m not sure if it’s that I’m so colossally bad at it and therefore need the constant practice so that I’ll improve, or that He’s preparing me for something major that will require an immense amount of patience. Maybe it’s both.
In 2009, my marriage to my second husband had ended abruptly. I gathered what few things I owned and moved back in with my parents in an effort to somehow start over. While painful, it was the catalyst that launched my relationship with Christ to a whole new level. I was brokenhearted, betrayed, and scared for what my future held. As I pressed on in prayer, however, my faith in God’s plan for my life began to solidify. For the first time in years, I finally felt significant. My identity in Christ was established in the absence of my dependency on people (who, in all fairness to them, would never be able to satisfy like He could). This is when I began to dream. This is when I began to dialogue with Jesus about the husband I truly longed for, as opposed to the ones I’d settled for in the past. It wasn’t long after I gave those desires to Him that I met Frankie. Our first phone conversation lasted five hours and was filled with those same things I’d talked to God about. It was intense and amazing and terrifying all at the same time. And he felt the same way. Problem was – we were both still in the middle of finalizing our respective divorces. And thus began my journey of waiting on God. It would be a whole year (almost to the day) before Frankie and I began dating. We forged a friendship that would be vital to the foundation of our marriage, but it was tough because we really did love each other. Do you know what that’s like? To finally find the man of your dreams and have to wait?!?! But this is what God wanted all along. For my entire life, I’d been engaged in the unhealthy practice of doing whatever felt good, instead of what was good for me. He wanted me to learn how to truly surrender my hopes, dreams, and desires to His will. And that’s not something you can learn overnight. That year taught us both a lot, and had we not waited on God’s timing, we could have ruined a beautiful thing.
We waited that long year and finally began dating once our divorces were final. It was only four months of courtship before he proposed….didn’t really need to be longer because by that time, we knew. So when the excitement of the new ring died down after the day he proposed, like any soon-to-be bride, I was ready to set a date. To be honest, I didn’t see a reason to prolong our engagement. We were grown adults getting RE-married, so I was perfectly content with having a small ceremony in just a few months. After all, we were waiting on other things too, if you get my drift. 😉 I was READY. My husband, however, didn’t feel that same way. We had such a short courtship, and he felt that it would be wise for us to wait a little longer in order to attend pre-marital counseling. Not only that, he just wanted to enjoy being engaged without the stress of planning a wedding eating all that precious time away. And so we waited…again. It would be EIGHT WHOLE MONTHS before I was able to walk down that aisle and finally seal the deal with my soul mate. It was torture, but so worth it. We connected with a couple that mentored us through our engagement, not only preparing us for marriage, but preparing us for being a blended family. They’d gone before us in that regard and were able to give us priceless advice and principles that we still apply to this day. We were also able to save up and pay for our entire wedding and our dream honeymoon to Maui. Had we gotten married sooner, we would have denied ourselves the most wonderful ten days on that island, which turned out to be the perfect way to start our marriage. It was bliss, and I treasure that time that I spent with my new husband.
My next major test of patience would come with the birth of our daughter, Mary. We’d made the decision to have a home birth with zero medical interventions (unless it was an emergency), so there would be no inductions or planned trips to the hospital to give birth. We were waiting for baby girl to come when she was ready. Foolishly, Frankie and I assumed that since this was my third pregnancy, I’d probably go into labor a little early. Like, oh…38 weeks or so. Well, Mary and God had other plans. 38 weeks came and went with NO signs of labor. And then 39. And then 40. Ah, I remember that day so vividly. When preparing for a natural, unmedicated birth, all of the experts tell you that a “due date” is just an estimate. And it’s true! All women are different and all bodies are different. 40 weeks is not the magical number that every human being will give birth. But when you’ve been swollen, and gassy, and uncomfortably large for 40 straight weeks, all you can think about is how you’re going to get through another 24 hours of this misery. So when 40 weeks came and went with no sign of labor, I began to grow weary. I wasn’t just uncomfortable, but my husband and I were both so ready to meet our daughter. The twelve (yes….TWELVE) days that followed my “due date” were some of the toughest days of my life. I cried – a lot. But through my tears, I prayed. And through my tears, I worshiped. I worshiped the One who had designed my body perfectly, and the One who knew just when my daughter would arrive.
Not knowing when or how this birth would pan out was hard, but in hindsight – so worth it. I went into spontaneous labor and had the most beautiful home birth. Our baby girl was 7 pounds, one half ounce. Had I rushed God’s timing and induced when the medical community deems it acceptable, she would have been far too small. I don’t even want to think about the challenges she could have faced. I’m thankful that we waited on God’s timing, and that I don’t ever have to know.
During those seasons of waiting, I leaned heavily on the promises in the word of God. He knows how hard it is, so He was kind enough to provide countless scriptures that would help us during the wait:
“You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what He has promised.” -Hebrews 10:36 (NIV)
That scripture is two-fold. It does not leave us with just the instruction to wait (or persevere, rather), but He follows it up with the assurance that we will receive what He has promised. In those times that I felt as if I couldn’t possibly stand one more second without knowing what comes next, His word always reassured me:
“For I am about to do something new. See, I have already begun! Do you not see it? I will make a pathway through the wilderness. I will create rivers in the dry wasteland.” -Isaiah 43:19
And now, once again, Frankie and I are in another holding pattern. Two years ago, we put our house up for sale. We are a large family living in a house that we have outgrown. We are by no means uncomfortable, but some more room and storage space would be nice. We went six months without even so much as a single person wanting to see our house. So…we knew that it wasn’t God’s timing. We told ourselves that we’d wait a while longer and see what happens. If I have to dig my heels in and raise these kids in my small, cozy home until they leave the nest, then so be it. I will do so with a grateful and joyous heart. But three weeks ago, Frankie and I both felt like God was telling us that it was time to try again. I don’t have a crystal ball to foresee the outcome. We don’t have another place to live, and we have no idea what comes next. We’re just doing our part by being obedient, and waiting on Him. Because we know from experience that one thing’s for sure – that if we persevere, we will receive what He has promised.
If there’s something that you’re waiting on today, I am writing this to encourage you to REST IN HIM. Rest in the One who knows the beginning from the end. You WILL receive His promise.